On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that it has cancelled two mining leases near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, a move that will likely kill the project opposed by environmental activists and Indigenous groups.
Antofagasta, a Chilean mining giant, proposed the project. was revived by President Donald TrumpHe restored the leases when he took office, and slashed environmental regulations that would have stopped the mine being built. The Department of the Interior has recently however found that those leases were issued improperly.
“The Department of the Interior takes seriously our obligations to steward public lands and waters on behalf of all Americans. We must be consistent in how we apply lease terms to ensure that no lessee receives special treatment,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. “After a careful legal review, we found the leases were improperly renewed in violation of applicable statutes and regulations, and we are taking action to cancel them.”
The agency said that the Trump administration hadn’t followed simple procedural steps and that the revival of the project had violated Interior Department regulations. The leases have been cancelled and the project is now likely dead.
The lease cancellation follows the Biden administration’s announcement last yearIt would stop all mining activity from northern Minnesota to evaluate environmental impacts.
Environmental advocates celebrated Wednesday’s news. “Today is a major win for Boundary Waters protection,” Becky Rom, chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, said in a statement. “This action by the Biden administration re-establishes the long-standing legal consensus of five presidential administrations and marks a return of the rule of law. It also allows for science-based decision-making on where risky mining is inappropriate.”
Antofagasta’s subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota spent nearly $600 to acquire Twin Metals Minnesota. $1 million lobbying for the copper and nickel minesTrump was inaugurated. Billionaire Andrónico Luksic, whose family controls the conglomerate, had also rented a house to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in hopes of buying favor with the presidential family.
Advocates stated that leasing flew in spite of evidenceThe mining would have produced heavy metal runoff which would have been polluting the Boundary Waters and causing irreparable damages.
The Boundary waters are very important to the northern Minnesota Indigenous communities. They opposed the mining project. Ojibwe tribes have notedThe Boundary Waters were used by Chippewa for centuries by the Chippewa and are still used by Indigenous people to catch fish today. ManoominWild rice or steamed rice.
Twin Metals has been around since the early 2000s. Lobbying politiciansThey argued that the plan would benefit the state’s economy and supported it. Environmental advocates argue that the negative effects of the mines on the region would completely offset any jobs that would be created.
Boundary Waters are the most heavily visited wilderness areaThe U.S. has nearly $1 billion of economic activity and supports over 17,000 jobs. A 2020 studyHarvard University economists concluded that any potential benefits of the mine would be negated if the long-term effects are detrimental to the area’s recreation and tourism industry.